View Full Version : What kind of ballistics could ball bearings have

Oleg Volk
February 16, 2001, 03:17 PM
Any estimates on the shot weight, velocity and terminal ballistics of steel ball bearings (2mm or so) fired from a 12ga shotgun?

Al Thompson
February 16, 2001, 05:48 PM


Mike Irwin
February 17, 2001, 01:51 AM
2mm is mighty small.

I'd say ballistics would absolutely suck. Range would be probably half that of steel shot of similar size, and effective range would be much, much less.

Oleg Volk
February 17, 2001, 02:11 AM
The reason for the interest is that shot works well on intruders at room ranges except through armor. Hard steel bearings should have higher velocity than heavier lead shot and also be small enough to penetrate "weaved" synthetics. The velocity would drop off fast with range which is basically good for the neighbors. I am just curious if my estimates of the terminal performance are accurate.

February 17, 2001, 07:35 AM
Round shape vs weaved = bad
Pointy shape vs weave = good

Also, ball bearings are way too hard. As a kid, we used to play with ball bearings we found along the railroad tracks. Ball bearings have a surprising amount of "bounce" to them. If you throw a ball bearing against something solid, it comes back at you almost as fast as you throw it.

Mark C., the neighborhood delinquint(sp), got a face full of ball bearings trying to shoot out a plate glass window with a slingshot.

February 17, 2001, 11:47 AM
I don't know how they draw the dividing line with steel shot. But you might end up with tricky legal considerations construeing it as armor percing ammo. This would probally depend on state law, New York strikly prohibits steel, brass and a few others but I think that is a mirror of federal law. I am in no way certain but it is something to consider.

Oleg Volk
February 17, 2001, 12:06 PM
AP covers pistol ammo, AFAIK. Brass and steel are used in SG hunting loads.

Shawn Dodson
February 17, 2001, 03:43 PM
I tested #T steel shot (10 gauge) against level 2A soft body armor in Fackler's lab at the Presideo in 1990. If I remember correctly the shot penetrated about 5 or 6 layers of an 18 layer Second Chance FeatherLite armor panel constructed of Kevlar 129. The armor panel was mounted to a very large gelatin block. Some of the shot bounced off the armor and came directly back toward the test stand. We (myself, Fackler and a couple technicians) took cover in a small room while Fackler pulled a string attached to the trigger. When I initially investigated the feasibility of steel shot against body armor, I shot steel BBs from an air rifle at a small test swatch of armor. The BBs bounced directly back at me. I mentioned this to Fackler just before the shotgun test and he suggested we take cover in the room.

In 1994 I asked Ed Bauchner, VP Second Chance Body Armor, to test shotshells loaded with flechettes against body armor. Many of the flechettes were bent our bounced off because they hand't had time for the tail fins to stabilize them after exiting the muzzle. Those flechettes that hit straight had their tail fins caught in the armor fabric. The tips penetrated but the entire flechette didn't completely pass through the armor.

February 18, 2001, 02:05 PM
Another problem with bearing steel is that it is much harder than standard steel shot. I believe that shot is around 80dph and air rifle shot is about 178dph so barrel damage certainly could occur unless a very heavy shotcup is used. For close range armor penetration, I always suspected that small half-moon shaped steel shaft keys would penetrate soft armor as they have sharp edges and might cut through, but could be neatly stacked in the shot cup.

February 18, 2001, 07:18 PM
How about carbide disks or rings? Heavy and shatter into sharp-edged pieces.

February 19, 2001, 02:30 PM
How about catching lead birdshot in the eyes and face?

I.e. Aim for the head/upper torso area or the knees.

If the are too far away for that then call the cops, take cover, and use a rifle.

Oleg Volk
February 19, 2001, 03:31 PM
I just wanted to see if steel shot+20ga would be an alternative to an AK in-house. As for calling the cops...most perps with armor around these parts are the DEA no-knocking wrong houses and killing residents...doubt that the local cops would tackle them.

February 19, 2001, 03:44 PM
How about catching lead birdshot in the eyes and face?

I.e. Aim for the head/upper torso area or the knees.

old hawk
February 21, 2001, 06:03 AM
i find that the 1911 .45 to the head or 00 buck to the head solves all my armor and lawyer problems coming my way.why keep them alive if theyre all armed and kevlared.chances are theyres more than one and the threat of a half shot stiff on deck shooting back aint my idea of a picnic,also yelling at him to drop the weapon takes your mind off the other part of the team sneekin up on you,at least dead he cant argue with the prosecutor about "the mean mean man who shot me after i put my gun down"

February 21, 2001, 11:16 AM
forget penatration on vests. 2 quick rd.s of OO in the sternum is going to transfer so much energy to the target that most, if not all, the ribs will be broken and organs burst.
by the way when was the last home invasion within 500 miles of you in which the BG's wore vests?

Oleg Volk
February 21, 2001, 01:57 PM
At least two in the last six months within ten miles from where I live, both "wrong addresses". One dead resident, one wounded. No casualties among the intruders and that is very wrong, IMO.

February 22, 2001, 06:42 PM
i think i get what you are talking about.
you not taking about theives but cops, right.
well. if so i can promise you this much... one shotgun is not going to help you. yes, you make take 1 or 2 w/ you but in the end you lose.
i am not condoning or condeming a man protecting his home regardless of the issue boot kicking down the door. i am just giving you the odds 1:12

Oleg Volk
February 22, 2001, 07:17 PM
In case of competent intruders, even getting to a weapon might be impossible. However, since I wouldn't know who's coming in, I'd prefer a universal solution. For now an AK with a 30rd mag seems like a good way to go. I do know the odds but chances are I'd have no way to tell a freelance thug from the official kind as 3:30am...if it's in my home uninvited, blast it and check parentage, if ascertainable, later. I was merely curious about shotgun loads as 12ga pumps seem so common around here.

Shawn Dodson
February 22, 2001, 09:31 PM
Shot at close range or slugs impacting soft armor do not guarantee a stop. Several LEOs have been shot in this manner while wearing armor (Source IACP/DuPont Survivor's Club). There is no documented evidence that any of them were incapacitated.

There was an incident in town a couple of years ago in which a former husband (who was arrested for criminal harassment and domestic violence the day before) broke through the back door of his former wife's home. She was in bed (sleeping) with her boyfriend. The boyfriend had a loaded SKS underneath the bed on his side. Ex-husband broke in and moved to the bedroom so quickly nobody in the house had time to determine what was going on. As soon as ex-husband enters bedroom he double taps boyfriend in chest as he's lying in bed, killing him, before boyfriend can reach under bed and retrieve SKS. Ex-husband grabs wife by hair, forces her to her feet, puts gun to back of her head and shoots her point blank, killing her. Ex-husband exits house and shoots self in head when police arrive. Investigation revealed ex-husband had parked in different neighborhood, hiked through wooded forest to former wife's home, and staked-out the home. He had a police scanner with an earplug so he could quietly listen to police activity. Tragically the couple's 17yo son was sleeping on the couch in the front room and witnessed the entire incident.

February 22, 2001, 10:23 PM
"There was an incident in town a couple of years ago..."

...seems that one layer of security is often not enough, especially vs. a determined intruder. And that guy was determined. :(